Written by George Orwell, 1984 is a classic literature novel that has been a phenomenon through the years. 1984 is a highly known book for its show on society with major political flaws. This fictional story takes place in Oceania. In 1984, Winston Smith lives in a dystopian society, where the Party shames the thought of individuality. With a totally new language, Newspeak, and an all-controlling leader, Big Brother, this society seems to lack all individual freedoms. Winston Smith defies the Party and expresses his individuality through a relationship and a diary, causing all the attention to fall on him. Now in the spotlight of the authorities, he must conform to their ways to avoid being continuously oppressed. Today, 1984 is quite the eye-opener, making a novel written 70 years ago start coming true.
The English author, George Orwell is most commonly known for his many novels, one being 1984. This politically energized book was first published in 1949. The reason why Orwell decided to write 1984 was as a warning against a totalitarian type of government. The totalitarian governments he was against included British imperialism, European fascism, and Soviet communism. He wanted to express his fear for the world after the wars, through a book. Orwell explained that having such a society would not only crush the people as a whole but inevitably make it unlivable. Orwell says, “He can’t say that two and two are five, because for the purposes of, say, ballistics they have to make four. But in the sort of world that I am afraid of arrives, a world of two or three great superstates which are unable to conquer one another, two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it” (“George Orwell’s letter”). In other words, Orwell is referencing when individuals believe the propaganda the government feeds them; the lines between reality and fiction begin to blur.
Three years before George Orwell published 1984, he wrote a letter to Noel Willmett that had not been found only until recently giving more information as to why he had written this novel. He was asked by Willmett, “whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade and instance the fact that they are not apparently growing in this country and the USA.” Orwell explains in his letter the possibility of the higher authorities overruling the people and taking away their personal freedom as an individual. Orwell also later describes in his letter, that the way we are headed is reversible and preventable. He characterized the people in 1984 to be just like “a mindless puppet, just following what their master told them to do.” After he writes that response letter, Orwell then goes on to write a one of the most famous literary novels to date.
Although Orwell envisioned the world to follow under circumstances in 35 years to that of 1984, that did not happen. Unlike utopian societies, where authors’ descriptions of such societies are perfect, Orwell described it negatively, as a dystopian, and focused on the lack of choice and freedoms. Not only 1984, but Orwell’s other works all maintained the same politically corrupt tone. In his other famous book Animal Farm, Orwell also recognizes the lack of freedom through farm animals here in this famous quote, “No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old. No animal in England is free. The life of and animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth.” Through his writing, Orwell wanted to warn his audience of the possible outcome that could come in the future involving the government/rulers.
After quite some time of Nazism and Stalinism (World War II), Orwell decided to write of that experience in 1984. This novel was based on real life events that had previously occurred, but with the use of fiction. George Orwell was an advocate of freedom of speech. Having seen the communist situations in Russia, he had volunteered to fight against the Fascist government in the Spanish Civil War. This war caused Orwell to think critically of the authoritarian tendencies. It also inspired how he would describe the Party in 1984 as brutal, paranoid, and included much betrayal.
1984 is a novel about lack of individuality and freedom. The high authority or Party encouraged people to limit their thinking to one way. Some of their popular phrases included, “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is strength.” The phrase “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” is introduced in this novel. The idea of thinking for yourself is scrutinized and is rewarded with punishment. Every move, every word, everything you do is monitored. Propaganda is everywhere and discounts the idea of free speech. Orwell effectively shows the similarities between the authority in 1984 and the Nazis.
Throughout the novel, Orwell incorporated real life events into his novel. An example being, a couple years before 1984 was published, the United States dropped a bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He managed to reference “nuclear-powered wars happening in different parts of the world.” In 1984, Orwell also included his own life-time struggles at the time of World War II; such as rationed food, horrible electricity, and a scarcity of everyday household items.
Through the many years, 1984 has never lost its relevance. Even now, people are referring back to this novel and comparing it to how governments are run. Unfortunately, 1984 might possibly become a reality if the world continues to further on the route we are headed. Every government/ruler has their faults, but stripping individuals of their personal freedom is totally unnecessary.
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